University of South Carolina

Tarence Kinsey with the Gamecocks and Cavaliers
Tarence Kinsey with the Gamecocks and Cavaliers
Photos courtesy of the NBA and Getty Images.

Continued: NBA Finals


Teammates: From Powell to James

Forever loyal to the Gamecocks, Kinsey, who’s a Tampa, Fla., native, follows South Carolina basketball and football. He also speaks on occasion with current Gamecock players such as Devan Downey. Kinsey received a bachelor of science degree in criminology-criminal justice from South Carolina.

Kinsey remains close by phone with Carlos Powell, a Gamecock teammate and fellow member of the team’s 1,000-Point Club who plays professionally with leagues in the Pacific Rim. Powell was a team leader, Kinsey says, a tough, physical forward named the 2005 NIT MVP in his senior year. The next season, in 2005-06, the Gamecocks repeated as NIT champions during Kinsey’s senior season.

Kinsey says Powell’s influence helped make him a better player as a senior. The team beat NCAA champion Florida twice that year. Kinsey scored 602 points overall while averaging 16 per game.

“The opportunity was there with my coach for me to raise my game,” he says. Also stepping up was a 2005-06 teammate of Kinsey’s, Renaldo Balkman, named the 2006 NIT MVP. Balkman is now a reserve forward with the playoff-contending Denver Nuggets, another strong team with a shot at the NBA title.

Asked what it’s like to play with an MVP talent like James, Kinsey calls it an “amazing” experience. “LeBron sees everything on the floor, even things the coaches don’t see, and then points them out,” Kinsey says. “He’s like having a coach out there. LeBron has a very high basketball IQ.”

Signed to a one-year contract, Kinsey has been a definite contributor this season, during which the team posted a stellar 39-2 home record. When a starter was recuperating from a wrist injury, Kinsey filled in, playing close to 30 minutes a game during a stretch in February.

He scored 11 points three times and considers one of those games--versus the Memphis Grizzlies, his old team--his best performance.  Kinsey says he would like to develop his point guard skills. A point guard at his size presents a difficult matchup.

“I think I’m just as good offensively as I am defensively, but every team does not have really good defensive players,” Kinsey says of the Cavaliers, one of the top defensive teams.

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